Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone and also referred to as an unpiloted aerial vehicle and a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard.

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Wonko the Sane
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Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by Wonko the Sane » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:08 pm

Shamelessly copied from BusinessTech to promote knowledge

1. Myth: All drone operators must have a pilots licence
Not true… The drone operator does not need a pilots licence if he is operating for private or hobby use.

The RPL (Remote Pilots Licence) is only required for commercial, corporate and non-profit use. The RPL is 10x less complex and time consuming as a full sized PPL licence.

2. Myth: The RPL drone pilot licence will cost R150,000, similar to full sized PPL
Not true… This crazy figure was invented, and later published in the media, as some started to believe the nonsense. The true cost of the RPL licence is nowhere close to that of a full size PPL.

How much will it cost then? Indications are a few hundred Rands for the online theory exam (only 1 exam for RPL), and a few hundred Rands for the practical skills test, plus a few hundred Rands for final application (with proof of completion) for the actual RPL licence.

Training however is expensive....

3. Myth: A medical Class 4 is required to fly a drone
Not true… The new drone regulations allow for medical self assessment, and do not require a medical certificate for drones smaller than 20kg (larger than 20kg is not yet possible).

If you need to fly B-VLOS (beyond visual line of sight) or if you fail the medical self assessment, then only do you need to do a full medical class 4. But for the majority of drone pilots: simply complete the self assessment.

Again, for private or hobby use.

4. Myth: The requirement for English language proficiency is racist and stupid
Not true… English is the standard language required in aviation world wide. The test is done to ensure you are able to communicate in English.

5. Myth: No flying closer than 50m from people – so I can not film people?
Not true… The regulations allow private and commercial pilots to fly closer than 50m from people if those people are part of the operation and under the control of the drone pilot. So you certainly can fly close to people under your control, but can not fly close to public or people not under your control.

Also, commercial drone operations will be able to get special permission to fly close to people to accomplish their work, and this will be described in the operations manual, including mitigation of risk.

6. Myth: No flying closer than 50m from buildings – so I can not film buildings?
Not true… The regulations allow private and commercial pilots to fly closer than 50m from buildings if the owner of that building has given permission for that. But you can not fly close to buildings where you do not have permission from the owner of the building.

Also, commercial drone operations will be able to get special permission to fly close to buildings to accomplish their work, and this will be described in the operations manual, including mitigation of risk.

7. Myth: No flying closer than 10km from airport – rules out most towns and cities
Not quite true… The regulations allow commercial pilots with an air band radio, and approved ROC to fly closer than 10km from airports, provided they communicate with the ATC in controlled airspace.

Also, commercial drone operations will be able to get special permission to fly close to airports to accomplish their work, and this will be described in the operations manual, including mitigation of risk.

Private (hobby) drone pilots will not be able to fly closer than 10km from an airport, even if the airport gives them permission this is not allowed in the new regulations. So if you see a drone flying just about anywhere in a town or city, if its not a licensed commercial drone with clear registration marks, chances are its an illegal private operator.

This is nothing new, as model aircraft have also for a long time been restricted from flying closer than 5nm (9.3km) from any airports.

Special flying fields have been approved by the SACAA for members of SAMAA (SA Model Aircraft Association) to use under controlled conditions. These fields often fall within the 5nm limit from airports, but are allowed under special permission.


8. Myth: Drones can fly up to 400 feet above the ground
Not entirely true… All private drones may only fly under RVLOS, which is a bit more restrictive than VLOS. RVLOS means the private drone may only fly as high as the highest object within 300m lateral distance of the drone.

In other words: as high as the trees or towers in the area. Often this would be much lower than 400 feet allowed in VLOS.

Only commercial drone pilots can fly in VLOS (up to 400 feet AGL).

9. Myth: Drones are cheap, small and easy to fly
Not true… While the consumer market is flooded with small and cheap drones, that does not mean all are small and cheap. Many commercial drones are quite a bit larger, and many weigh between 5-20kg, and could cause substantial damage when they crash.

While most drones are easy to learn to fly, much like its easy to learn to drive a car, but the systems that make them so easy to fly are often just cheap consumer grade components, and are prone to failure. The higher end systems are generally more reliable, but are also prone to failure if not built and maintained to a high standard.

Too often new pilots are drawn in to a false sense of control, after they learn to fly basic movements in just a few minutes. But when a GPS system fails (for example under a bridge or between trees) the pilot suddenly realizes he does not have the skill to fly manually. Taking the time to learn to fly properly, and without relying on GPS and stabilizers, makes a far more competent pilot.

10. Myth: Full sized aircraft always fly above 500 feet anyway – so there is no chance of collision with drones
Not true… Full sized aircraft actually often fly lower than 500 feet AGL (above ground level). Police choppers and air ambulances often fly low, and take off and land just about anywhere that is safe for them to do so.

Crop sprayers and game capture aircraft fly low almost all the time for their work. Once you start to look up every time you hear an aircraft overhead, you may be surprised at just how often that aircraft is flying very low.

It is the responsibility of the drone pilot to give way to manned aircraft. Some make use of a spotter to help identify low flying aircraft in the area, and help with situational awareness.

11. Myth: A drone is just a model aircraft with a camera on it
Not true… In fact many drones do not have cameras or any such sensors. Simply removing the camera from a drone does not suddenly make it a model aircraft. The key difference between a drone (RPAS) and a model aircraft is what it is used for.

12. Myth: A RC helicopter or RC airplane can not be a drone – model aircraft have been around for many years
Not true… Some try to hide behind this , and falsely claim that their model aircraft are not drones are all, so the new regulations to do not apply to them. But the regulations clearly define RPAS (drones) as separate from model aircraft.

Three types of drone pilot license are available: Multirotor Drones, Fixed Wing Drones and Helicopter Drones. The key difference between a model aircraft and an RPAS (drone) is what the intended use is.

Model Aircraft are only for recreational purposes, and can not be used commercially. Model aircraft can not be registered with SACAA, and are very restricted as to where they can be operated legally.

13. Myth: Drone regulations are much more restrictive than model aircraft regulations
Not true… Actually the regulations for RPAS (drones) are much LESS restrictive than the regulations for model aircraft.

RPAS can be operated just about anywhere (with commercial licence), and can be operated at night (model aircraft may not fly at night). Model aircraft may not be operated for commercial purposes, but RPAS (drones) may be used commercially (with correct licenses).

14. Myth: The new regulations must then also apply to paper airplanes and toys
Not true… The regulations clearly define toys as separate and do not fall under the new regulations for drones (RPAS) or model aircraft. Toys are “designed or intended for use in play by children.”

15. Myth: I will then simply classify my DJI Phantom (or similar) as a “toy”
Not true… The regulations already clearly classify RPAS (drones), model aircraft and toys. The DJI Phantom (or similar) certainly is an RPAS (drone), and can not be classified as a toy, or a model aircraft.

16. Myth: The SACAA will never be able to enforce this – nobody is going to catch me anyway
Not true… The SACAA has indicated they have an enforcement plan, and an education plan to ensure the public and SAP police and other enforcement agencies are aware of, and empowered to enforce, the new regulations.

17. Myth: My clients don’t care – I will still have lots of business without an RPL drone licence
Not true… Clients will not want to take on the additional risk of employing an unlicensed drone pilot. It will also become very difficult to get proper insurance cover for unlicensed commercial drone pilots.

Clients will seek out seasoned professionals with proper licenses and paperwork, as well as good insurance and public liability cover.

18. Myth: The drone licence is going to be impossibly hard and complicated to get
Not true… Some have already started working on complying to the new regulations for commercial drones, and have already achieved many of the requirements.

The process may very well have teething problems, and it could be that the first few applications take months to process. Effort will be required, and serious business people will put in the required time and resources to operate legally.

Yes



W
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by Romeo E.T. » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:16 pm

Nice
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by cage » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:14 pm

Thanks wonky
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by SlowApproach » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:14 am

Nicely put, Wonko.

In a (tiny) nutshell then: For those with "drone" aspirations; If the unmanned aircraft of whatever form has do to any work, irrespective of whether paid or unpaid (work is the key factor), you are subject to and will be bound by strict RPAS regulations. Period. No ifs or buts.
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by nicofly » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:49 pm

Myth, Rpas license allow you to step into the wonderful world of droning:
Truth: False, Everyone's eager to sign you up (but don't tell you there are only 34 companies licensed and around 600 qualified pilots and growing, most looking for work.. :lol:
17. Myth: My clients don’t care – I will still have lots of business without an RPL drone licence
Not true… Clients will not want to take on the additional risk of employing an unlicensed drone pilot. It will also become very difficult to get proper insurance cover for unlicensed commercial drone pilots.

Clients will seek out seasoned professionals with proper licenses and paperwork, as well as good insurance and public liability cover.
False: Most clients don't care much, some do but don't care much about all the hassle coming along with it, they will not put up with it, and you will have lots of business without an RPL. Clients are tired of all the paperwork and delays the Rpas circus in SA is causing, and will do anything to take shortcuts and cut on costs to actually get the work done, and they do, many if not the majority operate without license and will never get qualified,i've seen it, while all the sorry sobs that has got their circus of paperwork in order and kiss @rse left right and center gets knocked down in every phase of a project because of red tape and over regulation, as well as endless delays will struggle unless they are in with the bureaucracies elite few.
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by SlowApproach » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:28 pm

In the commercial and professional context, what many people tend to forget (or don't seem to understand) is that owning a drone does not make you an aerial photographer, thermographer, surveyor, cartographer, photogrammetrist, crop analyst, or even a movie or ad producer. A "drone" is just a tool, or to be more precise, a data acquisition or data collection tool. Nothing more, nothing less *. The form and type of data is immaterial. (Even images are just data with a particular structure). And unless the area to be flown is relatively small, it is actually not even the fastest nor most efficient tool to use. (In many cases, people’s desire to solve their problems with "drones" actually just gets in the way of Best Practice, and because they do not know what they do not know, would typically deliver incorrect or bad quality data).

Another big problem is that locally, there is not enough work to go around. So having even more "drone" companies competing with each other, whether registered or not, in what has become a cut-throat industry with very low returns, is suicidal at best. To make matters worse, for any kind of ROI, putting only one drone to work is usually not enough to keep business going either. Never mind that if you have only one, what happens if it crashes and breaks - which happens more often than people think - and you have post-processing and delivery deadlines to meet?

So I'm not sure where a "lots of business without an RPL" claim could even be met.
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(* Forget about goods deliveries and such; That is still way way off, especially in SA)
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by The_Kev » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:47 pm

One thing that bugs me about the regulations is that there is no place for a photographer who wants to use a drone, like purely for photography, there seems to be this assumption that everyone wants to cruise around a 1000ft taking photos but what about the tog who just wants to get a different angle on a subject like mountain biking, moto-cross or white water rafting? Or even a group shot of all the guests at a on the steps outside the church at a wedding?
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by Wonko the Sane » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:44 pm

The_Kev wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:47 pm
One thing that bugs me about the regulations is that there is no place for a photographer who wants to use a drone, like purely for photography, there seems to be this assumption that everyone wants to cruise around a 1000ft taking photos but what about the tog who just wants to get a different angle on a subject like mountain biking, moto-cross or white water rafting? Or even a group shot of all the guests at a on the steps outside the church at a wedding?
This is a double edged sword (for me anyhow). Those that disagree can point me right. See points 5,6 & 8

IF you have everyone's permission including the land owners and stick to the RVLOS criteriea (This is open to interpretation: If you pose a possible incursion with an aircraft below the highest point 300m around you, the drone is the last of your worries) and do not contravene any other regulation (including selling the footage to anyone) you should be okay.

The regulations are there to protect other sky users and also to align with "invasion of Privacy" acts and the obvious "private property" acts.

**It is a much disputed point, but private property does extend "to an extent" above and below the actual property surface**
NO I DON'T HAVE THE LAW BOOK.
e.g if you parachute on to a 30 story building, you are trespassing... or if you are digging a tunnel and dig into the underground parking area of a tower block, you are trespassing... Irrespective of how you got there(Legally or illegally)

SO if you are filming your buddies on a trail run or bike route and you are not flying intentionally in any flight paths, and not causing a nuisance...go ahead.

W

Bring dem nooses... 8)
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by heisan » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:18 pm

Wonko the Sane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:44 pm
SO if you are filming your buddies on a trail run or bike route and you are not flying intentionally in any flight paths, and not causing a nuisance...go ahead.
Provided of course that you do not sell/monetise the photos/footage in any way ;) .
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by csparksfly » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:39 pm

heisan wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:18 pm
Wonko the Sane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:44 pm
SO if you are filming your buddies on a trail run or bike route and you are not flying intentionally in any flight paths, and not causing a nuisance...go ahead.
Provided of course that you do not sell/monetise the photos/footage in any way ;) .
What if you charge them for the memory stick only, that contains the footage? :twisted:
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by Wonko the Sane » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:42 pm

csparksfly wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:39 pm
heisan wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:18 pm
Wonko the Sane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:44 pm
SO if you are filming your buddies on a trail run or bike route and you are not flying intentionally in any flight paths, and not causing a nuisance...go ahead.
Provided of course that you do not sell/monetise the photos/footage in any way ;) .
What if you charge them for the memory stick only, that contains the footage? :twisted:
Rather "swap" it for a case of beers...

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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by The_Kev » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:32 pm

The part about not selling the photo's or footage is the strange part...

A full time wedding, product or fashion photographer isn't taking any work away from the aviation industry...and neither is an part time extreme sport videographer, does anyone know the logic behind this part of the regs?
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by Wonko the Sane » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:58 pm

The_Kev wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:32 pm
The part about not selling the photo's or footage is the strange part...

A full time wedding, product or fashion photographer isn't taking any work away from the aviation industry...and neither is an part time extreme sport videographer, does anyone know the logic behind this part of the regs?
It's simply the difference between a commercial drone operator and a private/hobby operator. Nothing to do with taking anything from anybody in the aviation industry.

If a GA pilot flies his microlight for his own use only it is one thing, if the same pilot rents out his services or aircraft it becomes commercial.

No way around that bit though...

W
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by nicofly » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:16 pm

So I'm not sure where a "lots of business without an RPL" claim could even be met.
You'd be surprised... I've seen first hand how big companies are fed up with all the stagnant paperwork, and have seen which companies operate without license... (Caa... need to employ a spy ?) Drop me a pm, be prepared to offer me something decent though... i don't work for peanuts :lol:
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Re: Myths about "Drone Regulations"

Unread post by SlowApproach » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:33 pm

+1 on Wonko's - and then I might add:

It's actually about the *safety aspects* of operating a drone in a professional capacity - which they've gone to town with, and seemingly then went and lumped basically every operational situation under one roof. There's all kinds of things in the regs, like Crowd Control, etc etc. To all intents and purposes, a CYA for and by the CAA.

On the face of it, all sounds rather absurd until something happens like, say: While busy hovering around doing happy snaps of a wedding as the happy couple walks out of the church (or whatever), your "drone" goes out of control (and they can and do), and going full-tilt, arse-over-end, hits and smashes the windshield of a passing car. The driver, surprised by the sudden and unexpected impact and bits all over the windshield, swerves and mounts the pavement, injuring a passing pedestrian in the process. [yeh yeh, dramatic I know, but feasible nevertheless] Or, could even be something as simple as: While under control, the pilot misjudges distance and hits and injures one of the attending guests.

Sure, public liability insurance is supposed to cover these kinds of situations, but the CAA appears hell-bent on making sure that such situations do not arise in the first place! (Well, not if they can help it). Also, if your "drone" is the cause of injury or harm to any person or property, the CAA wants that you should be able to account for it, including what and why it happened.
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